on Yahoo + Microsoft

So MSFT is trying to spend $45 BILLION dollars to buy Yahoo. Rumour has it that the borg want Yahoo’s search and advertising stuff, which would be a little odd – I can’t remember the last time I searched using Yahoo, or saw a Yahoo-powered ad. Whatever.


But, Yahoo does own two resources that I care a great deal about. del.icio.us and Flickr. It’s pretty safe to say that neither of those are worth $45 BILLION, so it’s likely that they aren’t the direct targets of the acquisition attempt.

The first reaction of a vocal group of Flickr users is “cheque please. outta here.” They’re saying that they’ll pull up and move if Redmond is able to sign on the dotted line.

Again, whatever.

Yes, I could very easily host my own photographs (using Gallery2, or even just a simple photoblog – I’ve done both) but the real value of Flickr (and also of del.icio.us) isn’t in the software or the service provided. It’s in the community. Taking my ball and going home would be the wrong thing to do. It’s not about who owns the ball, it’s about playing the game. If I dump Flickr or del.icio.us just because some company bought the company that bought the company that built the playing field, it just isn’t a rational reaction. This isn’t a religious crusade, it’s a community.

Now the risk I see is that MSFT might scare all of the cool out of Flickr and del.icio.us. That’s probably the biggest risk – engineers, designers, UI folks, etc… Will they bail because the borg is coming? If they stay, will they still be able to do cool stuff, or will they have to work on Windows Live Photo Publisher™ integration or somesuch nonsense? I’d hope not. Microsoft IS able to let effective business units keep doing their cool stuff. Bungie kept pumping out the Halo, and the MacBU keeps pumping out their version of Office, which consistently kicks the crap out of the Windows versions. I’m hoping that Balmer has the sense to run the Flickr and del.icio.us units at an arm’s length (or at least not to throw any chairs at them) so they can keep going.

My data is all safe – my photos all live happily in Aperture, and I don’t use Flickr as a repository – it’s strictly a sharing service and community for me. What concerns me most is all of the images I’ve got in the 134 posts on my blog that use Flickr for hosting – any switch will cause a LOT of grief in updating all of those.

I’m willing to wait and see. Microsoft would have to do something pretty stupid to make it worth leaving Flickr or del.icio.us.

13 thoughts on “on Yahoo + Microsoft”

  1. A few articles I read indicate that:
    – M$ buyout would cause quite a few of the cool Yahoo people to leave.
    – Newscorp might buy Yahoo!
    – This bid was very much aggressive with Balmer basically giving Yahoo! management ultimatums to decide or they go public, and they went public.
    – Microsoft might move Yahoo software to Windows and also liquidate a lot of other Open Source-based stuff in favor of Windows. That means things may become slower again annoying users.
    – The opinion leaders of the internet wholeheartedly reject the aesthetics of corporate M$.
    – This deal would create more of a mess for Microsoft and kill Yahoo! in the process, because M$ really just doesn’t get it.
    – M$ will probably buy facebook too after this deal for some stupidly large amount, significantly more than it is worth, i.e. EBIDA.

    The community will evaporate and leave to other services. The good news is that delicious and flickr aren’t hard to build, so other services will pop up that offer the same thing. There already are competitors.

  2. Yeh, the photos are safe. On multiple portable hard drives spread out throughout the country. But it’s the investment in time (the organizing) the community, and yhes, the links from the blog that concern most.

    You just know what will happen when MS takes it over.

    Not a happy camper.

  3. Peter scooped me! I read they are working on a new initiative for FLickrBob. I dont use Yahoo much beyond the two services it bought

    But agree, it is certainly no time to worry about the flickr sky falling.

    Has anyone noticed how irrelevant MS has become? They are flailing, only cause they have a warehouse fool of booty can they coast through their slow decline. Sync your Zune to Vista and set sale?

  4. @Andy: I was meaning to inject a little unFUD – yes, MS might buy Flickr, but it’s too early to see that as anything but potential resources to make it better. It’s not like any of the big companies has had much luck creating software with successful communities, so I’m trusting they’ll have the sense not to smother something that’s working so well.

    Of course, if they start requiring MS Passport accounts to log in, all bets are off 😉

  5. D’Arcy – I re-read your post and I have to agree that you advocate a good wait-and-see approach. It’s the Borg stuff that trips me up. I think much as people would like to treat Microsoft as this big evil Death Star, it actually is made up of many divisions, some obviously better than the others. I don’t think Microsoft is offering to buy Yahoo to get to Flickr. Yahoo is search, email, and communities, and that’s what it wants. Nothing about the buyout worries me (too much) regarding Flickr (or delicious). But hey, in my opinion MS ruined Office (2007) for the PC, so anything’s possible.

    Two other things. 1 – Windows Live Photo Gallery is one of the best things to come out of Redmond recently. It integrates (allows uploads from within the program) nicely with Flickr. 2 – I would not be surprised to see Microsoft require users to get a “Live ID” (Passport is dead) to use Flickr ala Yahoo’s “synchronization” that they required a couple years ago. But who knows, maybe they’ll stun us all and use OpenID! Nah.

  6. @Andy: referring to MS as borg probably wasn’t too productive – it’s just a reflexive shorthand, and not my invention. the fact that I’m willing to wait and see, rather than bolting for the door shows that I’m not seeing them 100% as a virulent cyborg 🙂

    I made up the name of the mythical “Windows Live Photo Publisher™” product – I was meaning to refer to a potential shift in direction from building a great photo community website to building integration with the MS suite of apps. I couldn’t care less about application integration – we already have an API that lets us do that just fine – I just want Flickr to be able to focus on being the best Flickr they can be.

    And you’re right – Passport is dead, long live Live ID. It’s not exactly the same as the Flickr/Yahoo ID integration – as there wasn’t much of a legacy trust issue involved with Yahoo. MS has a steep hill to climb before many people will grant it control over their digital identity. I’d LOVE an OpenID system – Flickr now provides OpenID for authentication on other OpenID enabled sites, but doesn’t accept it from others…

  7. It’s the integration thing that leaves me worried…integration of anything into Windows seems to have been standard operating procedure in the past. Basically, if M$ uses this as an opportunity to switch direction–easily letting people move _out_ from Windows, rather than channeling everything _into_ Windows, I’ll be excited. That’s the way to make the Windows desktop (or any desktop, for that matter) relevant. The implication is that the folks at Redland have to be ready to completely reconceptualize their core product. Let’s hope they’re ready to do so.


  8. This acquisition, in my mind, is all about the search engine. Microsoft desperately wants to get a foothold in the search engine business (perhaps to lend it’s own sites a helping hand and to throw in Windows ads). MSN has largely been a failure. While most computer savvy users have been using Google for awhile, Yahoo remains a large contender. I haven’t heard any numbers recently, but I believe that Yahoo still gets around 30% of the searches Google gets. That’s still a ton of searches.

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